More than 50 years ago, she was selected as the first Miss St. John in a competition that was vastly different than the glitz, glamor, and perfectly choreographed routines of the Festival pageants of today. Now, in honor of St. John Festival’s 60th anniversary, Elsie Thomas-Trotman will lead the Fourth of July Festival parade as parade marshal.
Thomas-Trotman was chosen to lead the parade because of her history with St. John Festival, and for the difference she’s made in the St. John community.
“I feel great about it,” said Thomas-Trotman, who currently stays busy serving as a commissioner on the Public Services Commission, and as the Board of Stewards chairperson at the Bethany Moravian Church. “I think it’s an honor and a privilege, especially since it’s our 60th anniversary.”
The very first Miss St. John competition in the early 1960s was “like a popularity contest,” recalled Thomas-Trotman.
“I was very young and naive, and I really didn’t realize the importance of it,” she said. “My mother and Mr. Albert Sewer, who I worked for during my summer breaks, did most of the work. The only thing we had to do was sell chances, or votes, and whoever turned in the most money was the winner.”
Thomas-Trotman emerged victorious, and said she’s glad she earned the Miss St. John title before the competition evolved into the dazzling show it is today.
“I don’t know if I could go up on that stage,” she said with a laugh.
After becoming the first Miss St. John, Thomas-Trotman stayed involved with the St. John community in various ways, including working as a police officer in the 1980s and 1990s. She rose through the ranks, becoming the first female V.I. Police Department deputy commissioner.
Thomas-Trotman’s passion for her pursuits was evident when she steered an interview about her selection as parade marshal into a conversation about a new project at the Bethany Moravian Church that requires help from the public.
“We are working on an extension to our bathroom, mainly because our building is used as a hurricane shelter,” she said. “By law, we don’t have enough bathrooms, so we’re trying to comply even though we aren’t getting any funds from the government or FEMA. We are soliciting help in doing the work.
Anyone who can help should call me at 776-6782 or the church at 776-6291.”
Although her duties are never far from her mind, Thomas-Trotman is excited to lead the 60th St. John Festival parade.
“I’m looking forward to it being a safe and memorable experience for everyone,” she said.
In honor of the 60th anniversary, several other past princesses, queens, and princes will appear in the parade, along with dune buggies, brightly painted motorcycles, and the usual colorful costumed troupes and majorettes. Parade chair Natalie Thomas said she expects close to 50 troupes to perform in the parade, including a troupe of Festival Committee members.
“We’ll have some nice costumes,” Thomas said. “They’re going to be really very colorful, flashy, and all of that.”
The parade is set to kick off by Mongoose Junction on Friday, July 4, at 11 a.m.